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Chemical Recycling Helps Combat Plastic Waste

Pyrolysis empowers vendors across the supply chain to recycle plastic waste

By Shell Polymers on May 17, 2021

By providing a safe, lightweight option to protect products, plastic delivers benefits to billions of people across the globe in a given year. While its role in our society is critical, we know improper plastic disposal affects our oceans and environment.

That’s why Shell collaborates with companies that collect and transform plastic waste to turn it into valuable chemicals needed for our customers to produce everyday items.

Reach Goal to Reduce Plastics Waste with Pyrolysis

The Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW) is a non-profit organization that brings together top minds from across the plastics value chain (i.e., chemical and plastic manufacturers, consumer goods companies, retailers, plastic converters, and waste management companies) to come alongside the financial community, governments, and civil society. As a founding member of AEPW, Shell proudly supports the organization’s $1.5 billion commitment to help reduce plastic waste in the environment over the next five years.

Recycle Plastics Waste Into Feedstock

As well as being part of AEPW’s efforts to keep plastic waste out of the environment, Shell has successfully produced high-end chemicals using a liquid feedstock made from plastic waste. Working with companies in the U.S. to source plastic waste, Shell is using pyrolysis liquid to create an oil that will be used as a feedstock for future products.

Pyrolysis, a chemical recycling process that heats plastic waste without oxygen to turn longer chain polymers into shorter chain materials, is considered a breakthrough for hard-to-recycle plastics. Pyrolysis liquid can be recycled into chemicals used by Shell’s customers to make things like furniture, medical equipment, and home appliances, advancing Shell’s internal ambition to reuse one million tons of plastic waste a year in its global chemical plants by 2025. In fact, Shell is already using this liquid feedstock in its own chemical plant in Norco, Louisiana to produce a range of chemicals that are raw materials for everyday items.

Use Recycled Feedstock to Create New Products

Pyrolysis is unlocking the potential of plastic waste to create valuable products that are usable across a variety of industries. Thomas Casparie, Executive Vice President of Shell’s global chemical business shared, “This breakthrough makes sense for the environment and our business. We want to take plastic waste that is tough to recycle by traditional methods and turn them back into chemicals – creating a circular economy process. These chemicals will meet our customers’ growing demands for high-quality products made from recycled materials.”

As part of its commitment to the environment, Shell is working with its retail, business fuels, and lubricants customers to help recycle plastic packaging. We’re challenging the status quo and finding new and innovative ways to protect our environment by reducing plastic waste.

Key Takeaways:

  • Reduce: Our partnership with the AEPW aims to reduce plastic waste in the environment.
  • Reuse: Our plan is to reuse one million tons of plastic waste across our chemical plants.
  • Recycle: Our commitment is to take waste plastic that is tough to recycle with traditional methods and turn them into chemicals.